2023-24 University of Maryland (UMD) Supplemental Essays – Prompts and Tips

September 8, 2023

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With more than 56,000 applicants per year, you might think that the University of Maryland—College Park admissions committee would want to create a fast-paced assembly line for application reviews that is 99% based on the hard numbers like GPA and SAT scores. Yet, in addition to those important data points and the 650-word Common App essay, prospective Terrapins are also asked to complete six short “Complete this Sentence” University of Maryland supplemental essays as part of a genuinely holistic admissions process. Today, we’ll explore the UMD supplemental essays.

 (Want to learn more about How to Get Into the University of Maryland—College Park? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into the University of Maryland: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

As the University of Maryland becomes more selective—the acceptance rate was just 34% last year—applicants need to find ways to stand out from the competition. Fortunately, these six short answer essays provide just such an opportunity. Below are the UMD supplemental essays for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with tips about how to address each one.

UMD Supplemental Essays – 2023-24 Prompts

Applicants must complete each of the following fill-in-the-blank responses in 650 characters (not words!) max each:

1) If I could travel anywhere, I would go to… (650 characters)

There’s nothing wrong with simply naming a popular and/or exotic city if you wish, but don’t feel like that is your sole option with this essay. For example, you could travel to see a particular painting in an art gallery in Finland. You could travel through time to have a conversation with 19th century women’s right’s hero Elizabeth Cady Stanton. You could travel to Montana’s Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument to dig for dinosaur fossils alongside paleontologists. There is no shortage of ways to create an answer that contains more depth and meaning than simply saying “Paris, because it has beautiful architecture.”

2) The most interesting fact I ever learned from research was… (650 characters)

“But wait, I’m a 17/18-year-old who has done some experiments in Chemistry class, but I didn’t exactly win a Nobel Prize for learning how to safely use a Bunsen burner.” Applicants sometimes panic when they first read this question. However, the only expectation is that you cite a finding from someone else’s research that you found meaningful and enlightening. If you aren’t interested in the hard sciences, that’s perfectly fine! There is plenty of research that takes place outside of the STEM realm. Some ideas include:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • History
  • Sports
  • Fitness
  • Finance
  • The Environment

UMD Supplemental Essays (Continued)

3) In addition to my major, my academic interests include… (650 characters)

Note the operative phrase here—“In addition to my major.” This is a chance to talk about one or more of your academic passions that are a) an extension of your major b) separate from your major or c) part of an interdisciplinary connection between your major and another discipline.

Of course, the second key word here is “academic” so you’ll want to make sure that the subject or subjects you wish to discuss are at least somewhat related to an area that could be studied in college. Use this prompt to showcase your diverse interests and intellectual passions and remember that “academic” in a college setting means more than just straight subjects like high school biology, geometry, or world history. In a collegiate setting, there are academic offerings in psychology, art, criminal justice, philosophy, artificial intelligence, and hundreds of other expansive and intriguing options so don’t feel overly-constrained!

4) My favorite thing about last Thursday was… (650 characters)

You could look back at your Google Calendar or old texts in a quest to uncover whether last Thursday was the day you reheated beef stroganoff for dinner or whether that was the night you ordered Uber Eats from Chipotle while studying for a Calculus final. However, there is another way to reimagine the question which removes “last Thursday’s” random and limiting presence altogether. Instead, change the question to, “What is something that has happened to me recently that may have seemed small/everyday-ish, but truly mattered to me and communicates something about my character/personality?”

Think of this prompt as a chance to show off your skills of observation and reflection. Even in 650 characters, try to paint a picture of your appreciation for one of life’s small moments.

UMD Supplemental Essays (Continued)

5) When I think of diversity, I think of.. (650 characters)

Try to avoid going the stale “the dictionary definition of diversity is…” route. Get personal and share what being a part of a diverse community means to you. Remember, diversity can apply to race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, and gender. Even diversity of thought and political ideology are on the table here. The goal is to sincerely communicate your feelings toward being a member of a diverse Terrapin campus. In fact, 47% of current undergraduates identify as students of color.

6) Because we know that diversity benefits the educational experience of all students, the University of Maryland values diversity in all of its many forms.  This includes (but is not limited to) racial, socio-economic, gender, geographical, and sexual orientation.  We are interested in hearing about your own individual life experiences.  In a few sentences, will you please describe how you have learned, grown, been inspired or developed skills through one or more components of diversity. (650 characters)

Remember, diversity can apply to race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, and gender. Even diversity of thought and political ideology are on the table here. The goal is to think about your experiences and observations in this realm—is there a particular situation, challenge, or aspect of your own (or someone else’s) identity that has enabled you to learn or grow in this area? Perhaps you’ve learned how to advocate for yourself or someone else, been exposed to a new way of thinking, learned how to have difficult conversations, educated others, or been inspired by a peer’s story. Bottom line: there are many possible options here, and UMD wants to understand how you would contribute to and/or support diverse spaces on campus.

How important are the UMD supplemental essays?

The essays at the University of Maryland are an “important” factor in their evaluation process, alongside class rank, recommendations, talent/ability, first-generation status, and state residency. This ranks higher than factors such as extracurricular activities, legacy status, race/ethnicity, or work experience.

Want personalized assistance with your UMD supplemental essays?

If you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your UMD supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote today.